UPDATE: The President of the Scottsdale Jaycees informs me that the Jaycees themselves were not responsible for the signs. The editors of LiO(iS) apologize for the error. In the future, we're likely to be as careless, but we'll try to do better.
Since I tarred them with such a careless brush, I feel honor bound to point out that we had a good time at the event and for the record, we don't even like fireworks that much, as my parents will attest. We were very happy that the event was put on, can't fault them too much for the bad taste in music, ate three of their hotdogs, and were at least partially responsible for two of the watermelon seeds floating around. The Scottsdale Jaycees do many wonderful things in the area, and they certainly deserve praise for what they've done. We here at LiO(iS) salute them and look forward to participating and supporting them whenever we can.
Our holiday wore us out. In the morning, Judy went running and I went for a ride in the hills. We don't know what Ciela did, but she was pretty sweaty when we got back. Then it was showers and relaxation while watching Germany v Italy. After that, on to the bikes and a ride over to the pool. Ciela and Judy splashed around. I swam 800m before sinking, and we all floated like jellyfish.
After we tired of swimming, we put on presentable clothes (although, I must say I look very fit in my new speedo 3/4 swim pants--they look more like biking shorts than the traditional speedo, and they do show off the Hermanson derriere quite nicely), and went to Chapparal Park's "Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration." They coined the name out of desperation, I think, because they didn't set off any fireworks.
But here's what I want to write about. All around the event, they (the Scottsdale Jaycees, I believe) had placed little patriotic trivia signs. Each sign had two questions, one for adults and one for kids. They were rather innocuous: "What president is on the penny?"; "Name the five branches of the armed service."; "Who wrote the Gettysburg Address?" and so forth.
And this one:
"Name one of the nations the USA fought during World War II."
Go ahead and think of an answer. I'll give you a few moments.
Okay, you probably, like me, guessed one of the three original Axis powers: Germany, Japan, or Italy. Probably in that order. But in case you were a little light in your history facts, they provided a hint:
"The Eiffel Tower"
Judy and I looked at each other.
"What the $%&*?!" was my eloquent thought.
Now, technically, they are right, I suppose. France, in a manner of speaking, did collaborate with Germany, but calling France one of our enemies in World War II smacks of historical revisionism, and certainly out of place in the extremely reductive genre of paperboard sign trivia contests on the Fourth of July. It ignores Charles de Gualle, the Free French Forces, and the fact that the US recognized Vichy France as the legitimate government of France--not our proudest moment.
I stood there for a minute, amidst the smoldering hot dogs, the seeds spit from watermelon full mouths, the bad music floating over the sound system (Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue", a horrible piece of jingoistic and cliche-ridden country pablum completely appropos for the scene) and could just imagine some bitter, arrogant PERSON WHO IS NOT A JAYCEE AND WE REITERATE THAT THE JAYCEES ARE GOOD PEOPLE, smoldering at the indignities thrust upon this country by war protestors, the ACLU, Democrats, environmentalists, homosexuals, coloreds, jews and and Kennedys. He may not be able to swipe at all of them, but goddamn, he was going to get the French. Pass the Freedom Fries, Martha, I'll show them cheese-eaters. Your wine and brie would be beer and sausages if it weren't for good ole Uncle Sam. Take that froggy. And he prints out the delicious morsel of reactionary bile.
The irony, of course, is that the French were our key allies during the Revolutionary War, of which--and I'm sure you are way ahead of me here--this particular holiday celebrates. Were it not for the French, our baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and lemonade would be cricket, fish and chips, and mushy peas. How much would you enjoy your spotted dick and kidney pie, you Limbaugh-loving ignoramus?
This last part I apparently shouted out, much to the confusion and embarassment of Judy. Ciela thought it was pretty funny, though, and ran around saying "spotted dick" to everyone at the festival.